Taipei Air Station - 1966 - - - " What you have in the end are memories"......... Photo Courtesy of Richard Reesh.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Friends of China Club - Revisited Again

In a previous story, we talked about the Friends of China Club.

The Friends of China Club - photo courtesy of Bruce Rayle.

Being close to both the Union Building and the MAAG Headquarters, this club always had folks visiting it's bar and restaurant from the various US military and civilian organizations.
What always seems to occur when office folks get together?
I read in a story, a few years ago, that talked about this building being a key "listening post" for those interested in what the US was up to.  I don't have the dates the club was operational. It's gone today. No it sits on the grounds of the 228 Peace Park.

"Loose lips sink ships"  - is an American idiom meaning "beware of unguarded talk".

If you're an old hand, you will remember, just about everyone "drank" back-in-the-day.  Drinking was part of our military social structure.  Clubs were everywhere. 

After a couple of drinks, you were happy, felt good and thoughts just slid out of your mouth along with information that should have remained locked-up in the office files.

UPDATE  -  March 2012

A gentleman, TC Lin, left a Comment on a previous story, copied above.
He indicated that the old, Friends of China Club building was still standing.
TC Lin writes Poagao's Journal, which can be found here

He sent me these photos of the structure as it stands today.
Apparently, the old structure is now part of the 228 Memorial Park's Administration Buildings.

 Below, are two photos sent to me from TC Lin.  

Both are the old Friends of China Club facility, as it stands today.

The building is now partially hidden behind a tall wall.

Compare these two photos to the original photo from the 1950s, above.
It's interesting to find the old structure is still standing, being utilized today.
I suspect good material and concrete were used during it's construction.
I will try to get more photos, inside the these walls, when I return to Taipei. 

UPDATE - October 2013

This afternoon I got off the Taipei Metro at National Taiwan University Hospital Station and walked across the 228 Peace Park to Huai Ning Street, turned left and walked south.

On the corner of Bao Qing Road and Huai Ning Street, on the east side of Huai Ning, behind a cement wall, sits the old Friends of China Club.
The two buildings occupied by United States organizations, including HQ MAAG Taiwan, probably sat a few yards out into the present street area the blue and white bus is parked in this photo.  

The wall must be 7-8 feet tall, I couldn't see over the wall, so I stuck my camera along the top of the wall and took a few photos of the white building seen here.

The original door and steps were located in the area seen on the right side of this photo.

Nice view of the area of the old steps and door area of the Friends of China Club.

As I walked farther south on Huai Ning Road along the cement wall, I came to a driveway feeding into the grounds of the old club. 

The guard approached.  We asked if we might take some photos of the old club building.  We mentioned that the building he was guarding was, at one time "The Club" for the our military and civilian leaders in Taiwan.

The military and civilians from HQ MAAG Taiwan, worked in the large building just in front of the old club and civilians who occupied the other large building right next to the HQ MAAG building also frequented the facility.

The guard graciously accompanied us to the old club building and let us look around.  

It appears, the old front door and steps were removed some time ago, and new entrance doors were installed on the south side of the building.  The building is in remarkable shape considering it was constructed more than 60 years ago!

A photo showing both buildings which housed United States organizations.  The far building down the street was HQ MAAG Building Taiwan.  The Friends of China Club was located to the right of the power pole on the side street at end of the HQ MAAG Building.
This photo, from a Double 10 Parade in the 1950s.  The Friends of China Club was just to the right of the tree in the right side of this photo. These buildings are the same ones seen in the photo above.
 Here are more photos taken 27 October 2013.  The old Friends of China Club in Taipei.

As we came into the gate and turned to our left, looking north, we saw the old Friends of China Club facility.  I am not sure how large the original facility was, and/or if it included the building running along the right side of this photo.

I walked down the driveway seen here and into the "new" doors.

Just inside the lobby area of the club.  The old doors were located on the wall on the left side of this photo. 

I have no photos showing how the inside of the lobby looked in the 1950s  Consider, this photo is probably about like it looked back in the day.  It was a modern looking facility.

The "Grand Staircase" leading to the 2nd floor.

Looking out the "new entry/exit doors" from the original entrance area.

Standing on the "new" entry/exit door steps looking south toward the exit gate and guard house.

A final look at the old "Friends of China Club" facility.

We exited the gate area, turned left on Huai Ning Street and walked a few yards south to Ketagaian Boulevard and turned left (east.)  One block east,  at next corner (location of the Taipei Guest House) and Ketagaian Boulevard, was the 2013, Double 10 signage

I passed the sign a few days ago on a city bus about 9:00 PM.  The signage was lit up like a Christmas Tree, lights everywhere. most of them LED lights, which added sparkle and brightness to the display.  

It is beautiful when seen in darkness.

Beyond the signage, you see the old "East Taipei City Gate"

I think we have finally resolved the question of where the old Friends of China Club was located...  It wasn't torn down, as I always assumed.  It stands today, and we learned from the gate guard, it will probably stand for years to come. 

There must be someone reading this story who visited the club when it was in operation.

 We would love to have your thoughts on the club. 

The club was just down the street from hundreds of US military and civilian folks who would have frequented the club often.

 Please contact us ~

our Email address:



titojohn said...

Great article Kent.

It brings back pleasant memories of when in the early 60s I used to pass by FOCC on my travels around Taipei; while delivering messages to MND, MAAG and American Embassy.

Even back then stories were told about the mysteries of FOCC.

Thanks for your continuing reports from Taipei!

Taipei Air Station said...

A reader of this blog Emailed me with his thoughts:

George Kerr, in his book "Formosa Betrayed" identified a listening post at a Lucky Bar. The only Lucky Bar I know of was located behind the Taipei Civic auditorium on Song An (?) Street, not too far from the Presidential Office bldg. The building and the son of the proprietor of the establishment are still there (although the bar is defunct), we visited them a couple of years ago.

I've always wondered. The father ran the bar back in the late 60's, and spoke flawless English. His wife was still there when we visited in 2009. Still spry at about 85 years old, still spoke English, and complained of the US government confiscating family cash way back when. She was coherent, so I can't speak to the veracity of her claim, but she was adamant. Papa-San "knew everybody".

I've been intrigued by the subject for years, but can find no other reference other than Mr. Kerr's reference.

titojohn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
titojohn said...

I used to frequent the Lucky Bar back in the 60s. It was on the 2nd floor. As I remember there was nothing special about the place other than it was a good place to get a cold imported beer when in that part of the city. There is a picture of the Lucky Bar as I remember it here .

titojohn said...

A map showing Lucky Bar, and lesser known Rosina and Catoria Bars is found here.

JAK said...

I recall the move to the Catoria. the Lucky Bar was being renovated to serve Japanese clientele. The writing was on the wall.

TC said...

The Lucky bar building is still there:,121.511275&spn=0.002012,0.002411&sll=25.050536,121.519024&sspn=0.008048,0.013733&t=h&hnear=100,+Taiwan,+Taipei+City,+Zhongzheng+District,+%E6%AD%A6%E6%98%8C%E8%A1%97%E4%B8%80%E6%AE%B5&z=19&layer=c&cbll=25.043112,121.510872&panoid=jYXJmfxhYNllCiBLK0AJYg&cbp=12,192.87,,0,-13.08

Eric said...

I would love to connect with those that frequented to the Lucky Bar in Taipei. The bar was run by my grandfather and grandmother (recently passed in 2012) and my mother has told me a lot of very fond memories of the bar and the soldiers visited throughout the years.